This year marks the start of reporting of nitrogen applications from the previous year. Under the revised Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program, all growers on irrigated farmland in the Central Valley will be required to complete nitrogen management plans through their regional water quality coalition. Sabrina Hill has more.
The deadline has just passed for the first group of growers required to report. The remaining Central Valley growers will begin over the next two years.
Wayne Zipser is the Executive Director of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau and in charge of grower relations for the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition. He says the new reporting could be good for agriculture.
While the reports may seem like extra work, Zipser says it’s not that bad.
There is also an online tool that can help out at sustainablealmondgrowing.org. Growers put in their numbers and get the proper information back, and all the grower’s information remains private.
More on nitrogen from the Almond Board of California:
The Almond Board’s online nitrogen budgeting calculator, available via the California Almond Sustainability1 Program (CASP) online system, provides a free tool for assessing nitrogen needs to more efficiently use nitrogen and avoid off-site movement. Also, deadlines are fast approaching (March 1 or April 15) for most growers to complete nitrogen plans as required by the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program. These plans must be filed on-farm for inspection by regulators if necessary.
The nitrogen management budgeting model developed by UC Davis pomologist Dr. Patrick Brown and incorporated into CASP has been updated with the latest research about almond tree nitrogen demand and leaf sampling timing, and takes into account a range of factors that can affect nitrogen demand.
Growers enter information on orchard configuration and production, along with n. credits from nitrate in irrigation water, cover crops, compost and other sources, as well as with data from leaf sampling. All of this data is then used to get a total nitrogen fertilizer recommendation along with recommended amounts by crop growth stage.
To use the online budgeting calculator, almond growers must have CASP usernames and passwords. Participation in the CASP program, however, isn’t necessary to use the calculator. Users can save data and return to their budget for future updating, or clone budget components among orchards and years. Ideally, the nitrogen budget is revisited in May, when April leaf sample data is available and there is a better sense of yield potential to refine planned inputs.
Separately, under the revised Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program, all growers on irrigated farmland in the Central Valley will be required to complete n. management plans through their regional water quality coalition. Almond Board’s online tool can help growers through the compliance process for these plans. Deadlines for initial nitrogen management plans vary depending on the coalition, size of farm and vulnerability for nitrogen leaching of the operation.
For growers in the Sacramento Valley, Westlands and East San Joaquin River Water Quality Coalitions, those plans should be completed by March 1, 2015, with the exception of small farms in low-vulnerability areas. For Westside Coalition growers, the first nitrogen management plans are to be completed by April 15, 2015, and growers in the San Joaquin County and Delta Coalition have a June 15, 2015, deadline. Tulare Lake Basin Water Quality Coalitions will have until March 1, 2016, to complete nitrogen management plans.
The bottom line is this: These new rules will require all growers to look more closely at their nitrogen use and its potential for off-site movement. The ABC’s nitrogen budgeting calculator, is a free tool to help growers comply with those rules while also optimizing their nitrogen use efficiency.